Oh, so you’re getting a colonoscopy?
It’s not so bad. Whether it’s your first or your tenth, I think we can all agree that it’s better than uncontrollable bowels and never ending pain. At least you have an excuse to stay near the toilet. Here are some Colonoscopy Prep Tips.
Let’s look at the bright side of colonoscopies:
- 2 days with a valid excuse to do as little as possible. Perfect opportunity to ignore your boss and watch Dawson’s Creek from episode 1, and not feel lame doing a jigsaw puzzle.
- Cleaning out your system. Even though all preps are hard to get down, and the effects are unpleasant, once you get through, it’s nice to get completely empty and give your bowels a break from their full time job.
- Post-procedure naps. After it’s all done, you can head home and take pretty much the awesomest, most refreshing nap possible.
- Your first meal back. Two-Four-Six-Eight, who do we appreciate? Solid food. If you’re like me, this is what you dream of during the scope.
- Showing off to your 50+ year old counterparts. Oh, you’re putting off your first really important colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy? Toughen up, I’ve totally done that. Seven times.
Tips to Survive the Colonoscopy Prep:
Food, er, Liquid Diet Ideas: Did you know that clear liquids include things such as root beer and black coffee? Those silly doctors have a different definition of “clear” than the rest of the world! Some things that are usually accepted as part of your diet include more than chicken broth, lemon-lime Jello, lemon-lime Gatorade, and lemon-lime hard candy.
All the gummy bears! Well, except the red and purple ones. Many clinics include gummy bears and similar candies as a ‘clear liquid’ because, similar to Jell-O, they are indeed see-through and melted at your body temperature. We rely heavily on gummy bear consumption to at least pretend we’ve got some food coming in, to feel a little bit full.
Root beer is one of our favorite “clear liquids” to change up flavors. It’s got an extremely sweet taste, and is a great contrast to all the citrus flavors you’ll probably consume. It’s also my favorite chaser for the prep solution!
Other sodas can include basically anything that’s not red or purple. Carbonation is an easy way to trick your stomach into feeling full. Colas, along with black coffee (no milk or creamer!) can give you a quick caffeine boost, if, for some reason, you intend to do anything but sit on the couch.
Prep Preference can make your intake more bearable. If you’ve done multiple preps in the past, you probably know which ones are easiest for you to get down. Don’t be afraid to ask for your preferred method from your doctor. We’ve had success with over the counter Miralax, and Osmo Prep pills in the past.
Colder goes down easier, we’ve been told. Get your Gatorade prep cocktail super cold by putting it in the freezer for about 45 minutes, so it’s very chilled but not frozen. The cold knocks down the bad taste.
Cold Jello + Hot Soup, in this order, I’ve been told, can also make you feel full. The warm liquid will expand the Jello in your stomach, and you won’t be haunted by hunger pains. Try this at your own risk and flavor combinations.
Soups without solids extend way beyond just chicken broth! It might take minimal work to strain out some noodles or other objects, but it’s worth it to enjoy flavor beyond broth. Try Miso Soup– this is what you get at sushi or hibachi restaurants- you can find packets in the Ethnic aisle at the grocery store. There will be a few floating pieces of dried seaweed- easy to strain out. Another good one is dried chicken soup, these aren’t too noodle heavy and you can pick out the noodles no problem.
Citrus overload solutions– Because lemon-lime flavoring to IBDers is like Tequila to anyone who’s ever done spring break in Mexico. Thanks to a surge of all natural foods on the market, it’s easy to find berry, and other flavored grocery items without Red #40. (When will Jello get the memo?) One of my favorites is pomegranate iced tea.
Frozen desserts without dairy, such as popsicles and Italian Ice, are one of the best ways to trick your mind into thinking its getting solid food. Again, you can get the standard lemon and lime flavors, but also banana, green apple, and mango. Just make sure you check for dairy ingredients and red dyes before consuming!
Flushable wipes. Not to eat, of course. But chill them in the fridge. There are no words for this level of soothing during prep day. Calmoseptine ointment is another great tool for soothing your bum during the prep.
Please keep in mind that each clinic may have variations on what is or is not allowed for clear liquid diets. Please understand these are tips based on our own, and other patients’ experience, and this is not to be used in place of guidelines from your own medical team. If you’re unsure of something, contact your doctor or nurse.
Ways to Waste Away The Day: There are so many challenges during the time you are prepping: conserving energy, staying entertained, and of course, getting down the prep! We’ve collected tips for getting through this successfully, none of which include a Food Network Marathon.
Movie Marathons are great. You know you’ve been itching for an excuse to watch all 8 Harry Potter movies in a row! Grab your favorite trilogy, genre, or guilty pleasure movies, and curl up on the couch. Just no popcorn.
TV Series are another great option, thanks to Netflix, DVRs, and the media section at Target. Start over an old favorite like Sex and the City, or catch up on something current like Dexter. A bunch of 42 minute episodes strung together can make the day pass really fast. If you’re looking for a show, there are about 243542 episodes of Law and Order available online.
Games have come a long way since Sorry and Scrabble. Social games such as Words with Friends allow you to play against anyone, anywhere, and even from the toilet! Online trivia like Sporcle can keep you busy for hours. And you might even learn something!
Have a Prep Party with your best friends. Other IBD friends make the best company, since they’ve done this before. Sit around and watch your favorite movies, play a board game, or do a puzzle. Turn your prep into a game- drink a glass every commercial break, or have your friends take Jello shots when it’s your time for prep.
Change the scenery without expending much energy. Of course, this only works BEFORE you start your journey to laxative land! Sit at the dog park, drive around a scenic lake, or find a local, low-key spectator event, such as a little league game or a concert in the park. If you’re itching for an activity, a little photography can be done without much energy, and keep you near a bathroom if you need.
Start a new project. Since you’ll have hours of time, you have an excuse to start something you’ve been meaning to do. Learn to knit a scarf with the help of YouTube, hang some birdfeeders and watch the birds, make a friendship bracelet, start a blog, or write notes to your friends. You know, to send in the mail.
Hang out with an animal. Pets such as dogs and cats have proven stress-reducing benefits. Spending some snuggle time with your furry friend can be a great way to spend a chunk of time, and things like throwing a ball or playing with yard don’t take much energy on your part. And who doesn’t love a happy animal?
We always want more ideas to help our friends get through colonoscopies, and even help newbies realize that it doesn’t have to be so bad. Leave us a comment or post your tips on our Facebook page!
Once again disclaimer: Your doctor will provide prep instructions before your procedure. Please read them carefully and follow them. If you’re not sure of something included here, or elsewhere, call your doctor to double check. We don’t want you going through this twice! Also, this post was written during an actual colonoscopy prep.
Hey friend! We love hearing your comments and suggestions, but if you have a question or concern about your prep, strange side effects, slow moving bowels, you’d best call your doc! Many clinics have a nurses’ hotline in your prep information, so don’t hesitate to call, that’s what they’re there for!